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Sex after birth: how to enhance your sex life after kids

Don’t believe the naysayers. Your sex life after a baby can be, if anything, even more fulfilling. It’s all about being relaxed and sometimes just a little creative! Find our complete guide to sex after birth.

By Rebecca Roberts | Last updated Jul 18, 2023

How to enhance your sex life after kids

When you have children - especially when you have a newborn - it can feel like the expectation is that sex may fall by the wayside, or at least drop off a little. But, while your priorities certainly shift for a while, mums seem to be saying that sex is as important as ever - if not more important to them.

Mumsnet recently surveyed more than a thousand of their users for Ann Summers, and the results were interesting. Today’s mums feel that sex is still a vital part of not only their relationships, but also their wider lives and wellbeing, with almost a third reporting that they have sex at least once or twice a week, and 10 respondents doing the deed a whopping 30 times a week. Impressive!

But of course, what’s important is quality over quantity. Four out of five respondents recognised that good sex was a key factor in their relationship, with 71% reporting that they are happy with the ‘quality’ of their sex lives. So happy, in fact, that 51% of those said they’d like to do it more often!

"Too many sections of society are stuck in a stereotypical view of motherhood that pigeonholes mums as only interested in housework and childcare - and this can lead to a situation where women are made to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their sexual needs”, says Justine Roberts, founder and CEO of Mumsnet.

“At Mumsnet, we’re happy to counter these stereotypes by providing a forum where women can talk frankly and openly about their sex lives”.

If you’re keen to ensure parenthood brings with it a new phase in your sex life that’s different but hopefully even better, here are a few ideas from the ever-frank and helpful Mumsnet Talk forums.

Oh, and if you're in need of any supplies, you might find our guides to the best condoms, best lubes and even the best vibrators useful.

1. Communicate what you want and need

If there’s ever a time in your life where communication is key, it’s during those hazy few weeks with a newborn. Combine lack of routine, lack of sleep and having a body that doesn’t feel like your own and you risk becoming withdrawn from each other.

As difficult as it might be though, this is when communication is vital. 89% of Mumsnetters surveyed said that they spoke with their partner about their sex life, and the vast majority (71%) said they did so comfortably.

But what happens when you throw a newborn baby into the mix, and how you’re feeling overall? It’s common knowledge that new mothers may experience the baby blues or postnatal depression. In fact, The National Childbirth Trust says that between 10% and 20% of women have depression and anxiety in pregnancy and after birth. New fathers can also experience anxiety and depression but be reluctant to talk about it. Understandably, it can be difficult to start an open conversation about how you’re both feeling - especially while trying to navigate this new chapter of parenthood together.

This is where sex can help. Maintaining that intimacy with your partner, during which you can build trust, be vulnerable and show appreciation for one another can go a long way in helping you communicate in other areas of your lives. It’s also a great way to remind yourselves that there was a time, before babies, nappies, and sleep schedules, when you were both (better) functioning, more sexy, less ‘covered in spit up’ adults.

What Mumsnet users say

“For us, it was about 5-6 weeks after the birth that we had full sex, but we had done loads of other stuff before that. I had awful PND and sex was the only thing that felt normal so was quite comforting. I would be wary of planning the event for a particular evening: it might put too much pressure on you.” MamaLazarou

2. Don’t (always) sleep when the baby’s sleeping

Couples feet in bed

Around 60% of respondents in the survey by Mumsnet said that sleep (or lack of it) was the main barrier to having more sex, which won’t surprise anyone who is a parent, of course. But being a bit creative can be a solution.

If you have a baby sleeping in your room with you in a cot, or simply are awake so much in the night there’s no time at night for anything more exciting than putting the bottle steriliser on, it doesn’t need to signal a drop in your sex life.

Early morning sex has lots to recommend it - you can hop in the shower straight after, it gives you a buzz that lasts until lunchtime, and it’s much more enjoyable than setting your alarm for an early-morning run! Also, we suspect neither you nor your partner will complain about being woken early if it’s for sex, even after a pretty rotten night.

And early mornings doesn’t have to be the answer. If your baby sleeps well from 7pm to midnight, take advantage of that. And heck, with more of us working from home now, who knows what you could both get up to in your lunch break!

What Mumsnet users say

“DD was a very shallow sleeper in the evening/night, but slept like a log after her 5am feed, so that was the only obvious opportunity.” CrazyChemist

3. Discover the value of a ‘quickie’

Think quality over quantity. Yes, parents are all short on time, but the quickie has lots going for it other than convenience. The frisson of possibly only having ten minutes to get to your goal, can bring a certain illicit ‘urgency’ to proceedings and there’s nothing that brings a smile to your face quite like doing the supermarket dash in the knowledge that six minutes earlier you were having a much wilder time of it…

What Mumsnet users say

“We have good sex, we have more quickies than we used to but that's no bad thing. Not routine at all, no real difference to pre-baby sex life really and I have to be a bit more imaginative due to time restraints/tiredness.” MissingMyHeels

4. Make sex a priority

It might sound obvious (or even a bit impossible) when you’re parents but, while you have new things at the top of your to-do list now, making sure sex is on that list, too, is important. Because if it’s not on the list, it’s probably not happening!

Obviously if a baby is crying or a toddler is having bad dreams, that will always come first, but it’s all too easy to find yourself slouched on the sofa several nights a week, just relieved to have got to the end of the day. So often, neither of you might not ‘feel’ sexy but if you both make time for intimacy, even if not a full-on two-hour session, you’ll find you’re suddenly in the mood. And sex is about a lot more than the moment of actually ‘doing it’.

Mumsnetters often report feeling generally closer to their partner when they’re making time for sex, getting on better and feeling less stressed. After all, it’s basically exercise but a lot more fun!

What Mumsnet users say

“Sex is important in our relationship, so we make it a priority. We both feel extremely close after sex. We gel better after sex, the relationship and life are synchronised during the minutes, hrs and days after.” Hrpuffnstuff1

5. Change the venue

If the bedroom is no longer the erotic love pad it once was, thanks to the addition of a cot and a pile of milky muslins, then look for a new location. Of our survey respondents, 60% had had sex in the bathroom and 49% in the kitchen. We’d say, do close the blinds, but 25% have done it in the garden and a huge 45% in the car! Hopefully not while on the driveway.

What Mumsnet users say

“You have a whole home to have sex in, and 24 hours in the day - since when was sex just about 'at night in the bedroom'? Having sex outside the bedroom and at other times of day IS ALLOWED.” CouldHaveBeenMe2

6. Lose your hang ups, not your libido

Sex after having a baby

Your body will certainly change and not only look different, but feel different to you both during sex. Things do go a bit more back to normal with time, but it’s definitely worth making peace with your new body rather than viewing it as a work in progress.

Feeling confident and at home with your post-birth body is incredibly empowering and there’s lots to enjoy about having your body back to yourself again now the baby is no longer on board.

Many women find that, rather than feeling self-conscious post birth, they actually leave a lot of those hang-ups in the delivery room. Part of it is that once you’ve had an entire medical team looking up your vagina, one person in the privacy of your own home suddenly seems like nothing at all. But part of it is a new-found confidence in your body - you grew a whole human! Now let’s see what else this marvellous body can do!

What Mumsnet users say

“Resuming a sex life after childbirth does involve a period of transition, I was 25 when I had DD, my stretch marks are still hideous 21 years later but DH doesn't care one bit, it's the body that gave him a daughter and he is as attracted to me as when we were 17. Just take your time and relax… it can take many months for your body to feel like your own again.” Malificence

7. Add some ‘toys’ into the mix

A huge 58% of those surveyed who didn’t currently use sex toys with their partner said they would be interested in introducing them. Seven in ten respondents said they felt sex toys complemented a relationship rather than replacing it, so they’re definitely not locking themselves away with their rabbits.

A huge 58% of those surveyed who didn’t currently use sex toys with their partner said they would be interested in introducing them. Seven in ten respondents said they felt sex toys complemented a relationship rather than replacing it, so they’re definitely not locking themselves away with their rabbits.

Sex toys or sex tech (that usually means toys used remotely) are a really easy way to add a new dimension to your sex life. What better time to shake things up during a new phase in your life. And hey - if your partner’s away or just too sleepy, a sex toy is always a reliable friend to fall back on, too! No one is judging here!

What Mumsnet users say

“Have a conversation about which one you would like to try together and learn together by experimenting. Maybe you could try it out first by yourself and then show him how you like it to be used.” StarryNight13

8. Try something new

Happy couple in bed

Nearly half (43%) of our survey respondents said they felt ‘open-minded’ about sex and there was definitely a trend towards the curious and the playful. So why not make the most of that with a few new experiences? That might be as simple as different positions, a little cheeky sexting during the day, a new sex toy, or a whole new technique.

There are plenty of suggestions for spicing an old routine up on the Mumsnet Talk ‘Sex’ topic, or you could find a few ideas online or in a shop like Ann Summers. 

What Mumsnet users say

“A blindfold or sleeping mask, the one wearing it lies down, while the other kisses them from head to toe, then back up to thighs/belly, then oral. Then use your imagination from there… Visit a sex shop for inspiration.” AravisQueenofArchenland

9. Celebrate the change

Sure, sex might look a little different these days, but that doesn’t mean it needs to fall to the wayside entirely. The fourth trimester - the 12 week period following birth - is a time of huge change as your baby adapts to life outside of the womb, and you adapt to life as a parent. It’s a time when you might not really feel in control of your body, either. It helps to be mindful of these changes during this time. Not necessarily the logistics of parenting - i.e. routines, sleep deprivation, feeding - but the changes you can’t control, like hormones, vaginal dryness, and a reduced libido.

While these things might all sound like barriers to a good sex life, you’d be pleasantly surprised. In fact, many parents report that their sex life is better than ever after a baby. Embracing the changes and open communication can help you to regain some control and can lead you towards exploring new things in the sex department that you might not have considered pre-baby. Your body has done a magnificent thing, and while it might look and feel a bit different now, it still is magnificent.

What Mumsnet users say

“Sex is actually better than before birth. I am not sure how but things somehow moved and refurbished and DP can hit the right spot much easier than before and I orgasm a lot easier.” MerryGoRoundBrain

About the author

Rebecca Roberts is a writer, editor, and content marketing expert hailing from Leeds. Here at Mumsnet, she commissions, writes, and edits to bring parents content designed to make life easier. After birthing and breastfeeding two babies in two years, Rebecca knows first-hand how hard it can be to reignite intimacy. From condoms, to lubricants, to sex toys - she’s on a quest to find the best ones, with the help of Mumsnet user recommendations.

Beyond her role as an editor here at Mumsnet, Rebecca can be found balancing life as a working mum of two toddlers and when she’s not at her desk, you’ll likely find her at a local playgroup, in a nearby coffee shop, walking the dog, or hiding from her neighbour as she attempts to buy condoms during her weekly “Big Food Shop”.